Bowen Street Press Student Profile: Iryna

 

Who are you?

I am a Slavic woman with an Australian accent who writes enthusiastically, listens to music obsessively and reads lovingly.

What are you working on outside of class?

My dance moves. Also, I have recently set up a music website called The Wall (magthewall.com) so I am doing a lot of good music writing and crappy social media advertising. Please check out The Wall ☺♫☼

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading: At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being & Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell and Twelve Chairs by Ilf and Petrov. So if you see me sitting somewhere with a shocked/blank look on my face it’s probably because I’m thinking about either communism or existentialism (also, if you see me like this please come talk to me, I promise I’m fun).

Why were you drawn to this particular degree?

I obsessively like to find things and share things with other people so I thought doing that through books (another love of mine) sounds like the perfect career.

On two pieces of artisan Melbourne sourdough, which style of eggs are you?

Controversial: I don’t like eggs. I will be some avocado and chia seeds please (I still live at home).

Which punctuation mark best captures your essence?

An exclamation mark – because I get shocked very easily.

You can check out Iryna's Website The Wall over at https://magthewall.com/ 

 

 

 

 

The Bowen Street Podcast: Episode One - Research

Welcome to Episode One of The Bowen Street Podcast, where we interview students at The Bowen Street Press and the writers and readers we are connected with. 

This week our interview is with Jane Rankine, an Indexer living in Canberra who is writing a research project on the once famous Australian Contralto, Ada Crossley.

Jane talks about the value of research, and how lucky we are in the 21st century where a life unfolds and blooms with one simple Google search. 

Happy listening, happy writing, happy reading. 

Creating Ego: The Challenges I Encountered

Written by Oscar Jonsson

 Creating EGO was like running a marathon in the dark. We knew vaguely where we were headed, but every step we took was a matter of trial and error. Then suddenly we were at the finish line, fatigued but triumphant, holding a printed proof in our hands. Only now do I feel brave enough to revisit some of the headaches we encountered during the publishing process.

Headache #1: Choosing a theme

When you have five people in a group, there’s a huge chance that you’re not going to be interested in the same things. This was certainly true during EGO’s brainstorming stage. Some of us wanted to write about feminism. Others wanted to write about how they were sick of feminism. Some of us wanted to write memoirs about our families. Others couldn’t think of anything duller. We decided that the only theme that could unify everything we wanted to talk about was ‘identity’, a topic that had well and truly been done to death. We hoped that if we called the anthology EGO people would at least think we were being ironic. 

[Caption] Early page plans for EGO.

[Caption] Early page plans for EGO.

Headache #2: Editing

Our next challenge was getting the submissions into publishable shape. The pieces were mostly structurally sound but there was still a lot of work to be done: some paragraphs stretched on past 20 lines long; words were sometimes repeated jarringly several times in the same sentence; and there were one or two unreferenced claims that we found highly dubious. But since several of our authors were reluctant to have their work altered, we ended up performing quite a timid structural edit. The copyediting would be performed by our colleagues in the editorial department of the Bowen Street Press. We handed over the pieces along with a request that the editors respect the pieces’ integrity as much as possible. Unfortunately this would come back to bite us later.

Part of EGO’s final back cover, featuring MS Paint face.

Part of EGO’s final back cover, featuring MS Paint face.

Headache #3: Choosing a cover design

Although we had two amazing designers to help us, we still managed to make designing EGO difficult for ourselves. Our instructions were a little contradictory—we wanted the cover to be ‘edgy’ and the text design to be ‘conservative’—so it was anyone’s guess how it would turn out. One of my favourite parts of the design process was getting the first cover artwork back from the designers. As much as the team enjoyed the MS Paint aesthetic, we wondered if the artwork was polished enough to be the face of the anthology. Ultimately we went with a different cover design, but we decided to include one of the abstract heads from the original design on the final back cover as our unofficial mascot.

Headache #4: Proofreading 1st pages

When we got our 1st pages back from the typesetter we assumed we would just be scanning for errors and comparing them to the manuscript. But we soon discovered that very little had actually changed since we submitted the pieces for editing—clearly the copyeditors had taking our warning a little too much to heart. When we received 1st pages we panicked more than a little: That terrible sentence still hasn’t been changed. And that claim there, does that have a reference? Surely that story is defamatory. How did this not get picked up earlier!? After 10+ hours of proofreading (it was more like intense copyediting) we finally felt confident that the pieces were as good as they could be. With crossed fingers we bundled up the marked-up pages and sent them back to the typesetter, who, happily, was able to work her magic with them.

 

These four challenges tested our resourcefulness, our resilience and our knowledge of the publishing process. But there’s no chance that I’ll ever leave structural editing until proofreading ever again, so that has to be a good thing. Thanks EGO!

Writing the Short Story: How to Write a Dynamic Opening for a Story

Written by Diana Jane Heath

When it comes to writing the short story there are two important structural guidelines to remember—the beginning and ending. Although there are other guidelines, the beginning and ending of a short story are considered to be among the most important. These guidelines apply to novels as well, but for a short story there is a limited word count in which to offer an intriguing story-world. So let us get started in exploring how to write a dynamic opening for a short story. 

A story’s opening paragraph should be designed to capture a reader’s imagination and inspire them to read more. The opening paragraph acts as a pivotal gateway through which your reader must enter so that they can journey successfully through your story. There are many ways of beginning a story: setting, character description, action, a statement, an idea, or posing a question.

Setting

Your setting could be a location: a windswept beach, a dark Dystopian city, a magical underwater world, or a simple hobbit’s hole as described by J. R. R. Tolkien in the opening page of The Hobbit—“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: It was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort”. 

Character Description

The opening lines can introduce your main protagonist, for example—‘Ella leaned back against the cold damp stone wall. Her porcelain skin was pale and drawn, with deep lines etched around her eyes and mouth, and her once glorious golden hair hung in matted tendrils around her face’. 

Action

Starting your story with strong action thrusts the reader into the thick of the story. ‘The baying of the hunting dogs drew closer as she dashed through the thickly wooded forest. Like a mad woman, she fought her way through the close knit trees, until she was suddenly redeemed by a burst of bright sunlight as she stumbled out of the forest into a small clearing’.

A Statement

The iconic opening statement in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is dramatic, poetic and memorable, ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of our despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …’

An Idea

How about Jane Austen’s opening line in the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice—‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’.

Starting your story with an idea can really get your reader thinking. Although they may not agree with your idea, they can be compelled to read on to see where this idea will take them.

A Question

‘“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.’ Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White.

Beginning your story with a question sets up intrigue in the reader’s mind. You have provided them with a question that needs to be answered and they must commit to the whole story to discover the answer.

I have provided just a few tips on how to write a dynamic opening for a short story in a way that will capture your reader’s imagination. So why not engage in some creative brainstorming and see what kind of ideas you can dream up when writing your own short story.

 

Diana Jane Heath is a freelance writer and editor, she tweets here. Stay tuned for 'How to Write a Gripping Ending to a Story' next week.